'In response to the serialised report by Jins Scaria on online gambling and online games like rummy, Dr Pattathil Dhanya Menon, cyber crime investigator and Managing Director of Avanzo Cyber security Solutions sent us this article
It was those online games with which the Covid-induced lockdown was celebrated and reaped its bounties. Shuttered educational institutions, firms with workforce shed to half, the emergence of work-from-home etc paved the way for these games to penetrate masses form children to youth to people who are not used to smart gadgets.
We should not forget those incidents which flooded the news a while ago. Sub Treasury Vanchiyoor, Thiruvananthapuram accountant Bijulal and couple murder case accused Bilal. Those cases were so huge that they became notorious. But still, there are an innumerable of stories veiled in the dark. In Kerala, there are victims who lost their money but are in fear of shame if the truth came out in public.
Bilal, an online rummy addict, used to find money through stealing from his acquaintance Muhammed Sali's house. But the theft attempt ended in the murder of Sali's wife, Sheeba. Bilal was just 23 years of age.
Mostly youth get trapped in these games since they have bank balance and ATM cards. Some children use their parents' credit cards too. They will realise the trap only after losing a lot, including money and priceless possessions. One starts the game out of curiosity but ends up in psychic disorder, depression or worst of all, suicide.For most of the victims, the initiation into the game was during free time at the office or between classes. Later the game grows into the individual, and one forgets oneself and sinks into it. One could play in multiple sites and gains and loses in some small amounts. . Eyeing more gain, she would increase the number of sites. This works in a loop, and at a point, the tally shows a loss. A gambler's mind drives her to play more for which she finds money desperately.
Victims testified that they received smaller sums initially but later ended up in huge loss. A domestic labourer from Kozhikode lost a hard-earned sum of 3 Lakh when her husband played rummy online; and youths turned into narcotics business to regain their money lost in the game. These are not isolated incidents. Many find refuge in drugs or intoxication after devastation caused by the game.
This rummy app is available in Android and iOS. It traps people with attractive bonuses. Just like drugs, the app gives bonuses and later engulfs the user.
In 95% of cases, people couldn't fight the addiction and save themselves from the trap.
This is somewhat similar to the gambling crowds in villages. Quarrels, fights or even homicides were common; then there will always be a crowd. But in online rummy, the game happens mostly within a lonely place like one's own room, and the gamer never realises her mental pressure.
Banning these games like TikTok is pointless since there are limitations for the government to restrict apps of foreign origin. Also, new applications to replace them would mushroom over no time.
What we need here is initiating stringent digital awareness. Many of us do not have even a minimum knowledge of smart gadgets. The cyber world is infested with crime many times that of the physical world. People never realise the caves and crevices which entrap them in the cyber world. These online games advertise how one could win lakhs out of them, tempt people, and it is this temptation that isto be cured with awareness. Most of the ads are presented with celebrities, adding to the false look of credibility. When these celebrities claim that they won thousands playing the game, people swallow it. For small sums they give publicity.
Nothing comes for free. Men made these software for their own personal gains, and they work on pre-programmed algorithms. We are wasting not only our valuable time but also mortgaging our privacy. When we install them, we voluntarily permit them to access the phone camera, bank account, OTP, Email ID, phone no, Aadhar details etc. And thus we lose personal data under our nose.
Let's hope that the required actions will be taken soon about these games,. Nowadays, gadget companies and banks send awareness messages to customers, forbidding them from sharing OTPs, bank details or passwords. But that's not enough. One could file a complaint at Cyber Police stations or Cyber Cell. Also, directly complain through RBI website or police websites.
Even then, education about cyberspace is essential. It should be started right from the school level. The government should take the initiative.